Ruth Ellis Claremount Center plans new Henry Ford Health Clinic to help homeless LGBT youth

The new Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center will provide many services, including health care, to Detroit’s LGBTQ+ homeless youth.

“The Ruth Ellis Center was set up in 1999 as a direct result of a young man of only 15 years old, who had recently come out to his family as gay, and they immediately and violently rejected him,” said Mark Irwin. With the Ruth Ellis Center. “He was homeless street living and seeking resources for homeless gay youth.”

At the time, these resources were not available, so the community came together and created a place to provide support and services.

Now, the center offers a shower, clothing, pantry, drive-through programs, a health and wellness center operated by Henry Ford Health System, and other services for youth. Irwin said the Ruth Ellis Center is also working with child care professionals to figure out the best way to help LGBT youth.

Soon, there will also be a housing center, which will be the Henry Ford Health and Wellness Center to address health disparities in the LGBTQ community.

more: The expansion of the Ruth Ellis Center will help LGBT+ youth homeless and at risk

The Ruth Ellis Center already has one Henry Ford clinic. Irwin said the current health center was born after a conversation with Nancy Schlichting, former CEO of Henry Ford, about the struggles LGBTQ+ youth face with regard to healthcare.

“Young people tell us that they experience discrimination in healthcare settings, that they are asked inappropriate questions, and that doctors are not necessarily equipped to provide affirmative care,” Irwin said. “For these reasons, young people do not have access to primary care services.”

Schlichting said Henry Ford wanted to help, and an ongoing partnership was built.

The Ruth Ellis Clairmount Center is expected to open in the summer. It will include 43 support housing units.

“It allows the City of Detroit to focus specifically on young people who identify as LGBTQ, to be placed in a program designed to support their needs,” Irwin said. “We also know that in society across the country, LGBTQ youth are disproportionately affected by homelessness, and in some communities up to 40% of all youth experiencing homelessness are identified as LGBTQ. This will be the first housing program designed to address their needs here. in the city of Detroit.”

An employment center will also be established to prepare people living in the center for work. There will be a focus on the food industry, Irwin said, and commercial kitchens will be available.

At the health center, young people will have access to routine checkups, continuing care, prescriptions and mental health services, including the center’s art therapy studio.

Dana Park, of the health system, said Henry Ford will be responsible for clinical care, while the Ruth Ellis Center will provide behavioral health care.

“The goal of our clinic is to provide a patient-centered, trauma-informed clinical care delivery model that truly targets the specialized needs of this population and provides those services in a gender-affirming manner,” Park said. “It’s really important, that we give patients and residents a choice in how they want to receive care.”

While the health clinic will be on the first floor of the Claremount Center, young people will also have access to virtual care.

Tahrima Khanum, who works at the current Henry Ford Clinic in Ruth Ellis, said the current clinic provides primary care, with a major focus on HIV prevention.

“A large part of our work is HIV prevention, treatment and care, which is another reason why the Claremount Center is so amazing, and I don’t use the word ‘revolutionary’ lightly, but I think it would be revolutionary, especially when we talk about HIV treatment.” . “We have patients coming in to be diagnosed with HIV, and the biggest barrier to care is housing stability because we know that when these basic needs aren’t met, people can’t stay in care and get this life-changing drug.”

Besides clinics focused on LGBTQ+ youth, the health system said it is dedicated to helping people in the community. It was one of two Michigan health systems named on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index.

“At Henry Ford Health, we are committed to addressing equality and serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people,” Park said. “We are very proud to be recognized as the 2022 LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Leader.”

Michigan Medicine was the other health system in the state to receive this designation.

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